The Bureau of Energy, under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, pointed out that the government has barred setup of PV power systems in national-level wetland and ecology-sensitive areas and required developers to employ ecology-friendly construction methods.
The bureau made the remark, in response to foreign bird lovers criticizing establishment of PV power devices in eight salt fields in Budai of Chiayi County, saying that the municipality will regret the decision in the future.
70 MW PV power facilities will be installed in the PV power zone, spanning 102 hectares in space, in former salt flats in Budai township of Chiayi County, which happens to be a major assembly spot for blacked-faced spoonbills and is quite close to a national-level wetland. A foreign bird lover Richard Foster took a photo recently, showing back hoes operating in the area, against the backdrop of nearby wetland with migrant birds seeking foods. He criticized that the government neglected professional opinions in pushing PV power projects in the area.
The Bureau of Energy noted that the selection of sites for PV power devices has to be subject to the restriction of a litany of laws/regulations, including "Regional Planning Act," "Regulations Governing the Utilization Control of Non-Urban Land," "Environmental Impact Assessment Act," and "Principles for Review of Landscape and Ecological Environment Concerning the Setup of Ground-Mounted PV Power Facilities," plus consensus with local ecological, environmental, and bird specialists and full communications with municipal governments, local people, environmental-protection groups, and related ecologists.
Moreover, requirements of ecology-friendly methods for construction, operation, and maintenance of PV power facilities are specified in documents for solicitation of tenders for open biddings, such as the setup of bird footrests and cushion green belt. Meanwhile, developers have to monitor and analyze the status of ecological environment during the construction period and publicize the findings regularly.
The MOEA green energy plan calls for booting PV power capacities to 20 GW by 2025, including ground-mounted PV power stations which will be installed, in priority, in areas with serious land subsidence not suitable for farming, waters, closed landfills and idled land.
However, former salt flats have mostly become habitats of migrant birds, which may dive towards solar panels, mistaking it as water surface, and get hurt. Local ecology conservation association and wild bird association have charged that massive installation of PV power facilities would deprive migrant birds of habitat and impair the ecological function of wetland.
(First photo is an illustration, not a photo of black-faced spoonbill, source Pixabay, reported by Daisy Chuang)